Amidst a surge in the number of Covid cases in Maharashtra, new restrictions have been announced in the state. In a virtual address on Sunday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that it would be ascertained in two weeks whether this is a second wave of Covid-19, adding that there might be a need for another lockdown in the state soon if people do not follow coronavirus protocols

Maharashtra reported a total of 6,971 new infections on Sunday, which is the highest since October 2020, along with 35 deaths. The state’s tally is now at 21,00,884 cases and 51,788 deaths. Mumbai alone reported 921 new positive cases in 24 hours.

Thackeray gave Maharashtra residents an eight-day ultimatum in his address, urging them to be responsible if they do not wish to see another lockdown. “Do you need a lockdown again? I want you to take a call on this. People who want a lockdown will not wear a mask. People who don’t want a lockdown will follow safety rules and wear a mask. The decision on the same will be taken by the government in the next eight days, depending on the discipline of citizens. We may have to bring a strict lockdown if discipline is not followed,” Thackeray said.  

CM Thackeray’s warning came shortly after the total lockdown was imposed on Amrawati and Achalpur for a week. Partial lockdown has been also imposed in five districts including Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Washim and Yavatmal.

Meanwhile new guidelines have been announced for Pune and Nashik. No public movement from 11.00 pm to 5.00 am will be allowed, except for essential services. Schools and colleges in Pune district are to remain closed till 28 February.  Meanwhile, Nashik residents seen without a mask will have to pay a Rs 1000 fine.

A 24-hour curfew was also imposed on Pandharpur, which has the famous Vitthal temple which attracts thousands of devotees, and on ten other villages surrounding the temple town.

The BMC has also sealed more than 1,300 buildings which have five or more cases. The civic body has also taken strict action against pubs, bars and hotels which had been violating safety norms.

Prohibiting religious, social or political gatherings, the Maharashtra CM further said, “Any events that will draw large crowds, whether political rallies or protests, will not be allowed in Maharashtra from tomorrow.”

Thackeray also urged people to wear masks, saying that it is the only defence against the coronavirus. “What to do till we get the vaccine? Mask is our defence in this war. Please wear a mask,” he said, adding, “When we eased restrictions we did with the hope that rules would be abided by. But slowly we felt there was no coronavirus and we and many of us stopped wearing masks,” said Thackeray.

He added that health infrastructure in the state has improved, as compared to last year’s situation. «We have more beds and testing centres now. But I don’t want to boast about the preparations,» he said.

«Coronavirus started in March this year. There was no medicine then, there is no medicine now. But we have a vaccine. In Maharashtra, there are 9 lakh beneficiaries of the Covid vaccine till now. There were myths regarding the vaccine but with 9 lakh beneficiaries those concerns are resolved,» said Thackeray.

He also took a swipe at the Centre, commenting, «When will the common man get the coronavirus vaccine? Balasaheb used to say ‘uparwale ko marzi’ [it is up to the almighty],” said Thackeray, referring to the Centre as “uparwala”.

«It’s in the hands of the Centre. They are deciding on how many vaccines to give. We have been carrying on the vaccination drive. I request our frontline workers to come forward and get vaccinated; it’s safe. But how much we vaccinate will also depend on how many vaccines we get from the Centre. How many we get and how many other countries get is the call of the Central government,» he added.

Thackeray further requested all allies and opposition parties to ‹cooperate and not organise programs where crowds gather›.

“The coronavirus figures are rising… the state was reporting around 2,000-2,500 daily cases; now, it is reporting nearly 7,000…active cases have jumped from 40,000 to 53,000…last year, the numbers that we had been getting during the Covid peak are almost equal to what we are getting now… just think what would be the figures when we hit the peak again,” he said.

Maharashtra’s case fatality rate stands at 2.47 percent now, well above the national figure of 1.42 per cent.

India, on the whole, reported 14,264 new Covid-19 cases and 90 deaths in the last 24 hours, with Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh witnessing an upsurge in daily cases amid rising fears of the spread of new variants from South Africa and Brazil, whose first cases were reported on February 16.

4,070 new Covid-19 cases and 4,345 recoveries were reported in Kerala on Sunday. The total number of active cases in the state is 58,313, as per the state government. 9,71,975 people have recovered so far.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh reported 299 coronavirus positive cases, taking its tally to 2,59,427, while four deaths pushed the toll to 3,854, a health official said.

Gujarat’s Covid-19 tally rose to 2,67,104 after 283 cases were detected on Sunday. The day also saw one death and 264 people being discharged, a state health official said. So far, 2,61,009 people have been discharged in the state, and a recovery rate of 97.72 percent has been recorded, while the death toll stands at 4,405, he added. “The number of active cases is 1,690, including 29 on ventilator support. Of the new cases, Ahmedabad led with 68, followed by Vadodara with 65, Surat 47, Rajkot 22, Kutch 11, Gandhinagar nine, Jamnagar seven, Bharuch six, and Morbi, Panchmahal, and Sabarkantha five each,” he said.


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